5 Planets Lined Up: Planet Parade in June 2022

~6 min
5 Planets Lined Up: Planet Parade in June 2022

At the end of June, five Solar System planets accompanied by the crescent Moon will line up in the sky. Find out when and how to see this rare planet parade.

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Planetary alignment on June 24, 2022

The most spectacular planet parade of the year will take place on the morning of June 24. Observers will see five planets of the Solar System aligned in the sky: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. In fact, this will be a seven-planet alignment as Neptune and Uranus will also join the celestial show. However, these two giant planets are too dim to be spotted with the naked eye.

You should start your observations about an hour before dawn. The planets will extend from east to south (from north to east in the southern latitudes) across the sky. Observers from the Southern Hemisphere will have a better view — the planets there will rise earlier and climb much higher.

An additional bonus is the waning crescent Moon, shining between Venus and Mars. It will be slightly out of the “planetary line,” traveling from planet to planet during the latter half of June.

To easily locate and identify planets on the sky's dome, you can use mobile apps like Star Walk 2 or Sky Tonight. Simply point your device at the sky and the apps will show you what object you’re looking at. The apps’ notifications will help you keep abreast of the most noteworthy astronomical events.

What is a planet parade?

Although there is no official scientific term ‘planetary parade’, it is widely used in astronomy to denote an astronomical event that takes place when planets of the Solar System line up in a row in the same area of the sky, as seen by observers from Earth. There is no single definition of this phenomenon. These are the three most commonly used:

  1. An astronomical event that occurs when planets line up in a row on one side of the Sun at the same time, as seen up above the plane of our Solar System.
  2. A visual phenomenon that occurs when planets of the Solar System appear in a small sector of the sky at the same time regardless of their visibility conditions, from Earth's point of view (as seen by observers from Earth). A planet parade of this type happened on April 18, 2002, and then on July 4, 2020, when all planets of the Solar System that are visible to the naked eye lined up in a row in the evening sky. According to preliminary forecasts, such planet parades will take place in 2022, 2040, and 2854.
  3. On rare occasions, there are very good seeing conditions of all planets of the Solar System in one night. These events are also referred to as planet parades. For inner planets, the best viewing conditions occur near the greatest elongations, and for outer planets – sometime before and after oppositions.

Types of planetary parades

Another term for a planet parade is ‘appulse’. The following types of planetary parades are distinguished according to the number of participating planets:

  • Mini planet parade – 3 planets.
  • Small planet parade – 4 planets.
  • Large planet parade – 5 or 6 planets.
  • Great (full) planet parade – all Solar System’s planets (+ Pluto sometimes).

Mini planet parades are not rare events. Three planets can be simultaneously observed in the same part of the sky several times a year.

When do the planets align?

It is important to point out that planetary alignment during a planet parade should not be taken literally. In reality, planets never align in one perfectly straight line, as usually shown in the pictures. Since the Solar System’s planets do not all orbit perfectly in the same plane and swing about on different orbits in three-dimensional space, they will never be perfectly lined up.

What happens when the planets align?

By planets’ alignment or parade, astronomers usually mean that planets will appear in the same part of the sky. Sometimes the arrangement of planets in the sky resembles a line, but it's not always the case. Most often, two or three planets form a line in the sky.

Besides, a lot depends on the viewpoint. When planets line up on one side of the Sun, they are not necessarily in the same region of the sky for observers from Earth. Vice versa, when planets are in the same part of the sky from Earth's point of view, they are not necessarily aligned from the point of view of the Sun.

When was the last time all the planets aligned?

On July 4, 2020, a rare and unique planet parade took place. All the planets of the Solar System – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune plus the dwarf planet Pluto – lined up on one side of the Sun at the same time. This was a planet parade of the first type of the three described above. The near-perfect alignment didn’t occur, as the deviation angle was quite small. Before that, the parade of planets of this type happened in 1982, and the next one is expected in 2161.

Also, in August 2020, the planetary parade of the third type occurred: observers could witness all the planets in one night. At the beginning of the month, the elusive planet Mercury shone in the morning sky, and brilliant Venus was sitting nearby. The red planet Mars, distant Uranus, and Neptune, all approaching their oppositions, were well placed for observation, as well as the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn. Even the dim dwarf planet Pluto offered skywatchers favorable conditions for viewing it due to its opposition.

The last time the planet parade took place was on April 20, 2022. It was less spectacular than the one in August 2020, as only four planets lined up in the sky: Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

When will the next large planetary alignment occur?

According to NASA, the next spectacular planet parade will happen on September 8, 2040. Five naked-eye planets will be located within a circle of about 10 degrees in diameter. The alignment will include Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The crescent Moon will also be visible, positioned between Venus and Saturn. The best time for observations will be around 19:30 local time.

During this planet parade, the five planets will line up in a row as seen from above the plane of the Solar System. This means they will form an almost straight line in space but not in the sky for an observer on the Earth. However, as the planets will appear very close together, it will still be a stunning view.

F.A.Q.

Let's briefly recap all the information about planetary parades given above – just in case you don't feel like reading a long article.

What is a planetary parade?

It is an astronomical event that occurs when the Solar System’s planets line up in a row in the same area of the sky, as seen from Earth.

The astronomical events that can be referred to as planet parades include:

  • events that take place when planets align in a row on one side of the Sun at the same time, as observed up above the plane of the Solar System;
  • visual phenomena that happen when the planets of the Solar System appear in a small sector of the sky at the same time, as seen by a terrestrial observer;
  • nights when all planets of the Solar System can be seen.

What types of planet parades are there?

There are four types of planet parades: mini (3 planets), small (4 planets), large (5 or 6 planets), and great (all Solar System's planets).

When do the planets of the Solar System line up?

In fact, the Solar System’s planets never align in one perfectly straight line, as they do not orbit in the same plane.

What to expect from a planet parade?

During this spectacular event, you can see planets lined up (or just gathered) in the same part of the sky.

When was the last time a planetary parade occurred?

All the planets of the Solar System lined up on one side of the Sun at the same time on July 4, 2020. Also, the next month observers could see all the planets in one night.

What planet parade happened on July 4, 2020?

On July 4, 2020, the rare planet parade took place. All the eight planets of the Solar System and the dwarf planet Pluto lined up on one side from the Sun at the same time.

When to see the next large planetary parade?

The next spectacular planetary parade will occur on September 8, 2040. Five planets will take part in this alignment: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The crescent Moon will also be located close to the planets.

How often do the planets align?

Three planets align on one side of the Sun simultaneously two times a year, four planets – once a year, five planets – once in every nineteen years, and all eight planets of the Solar System – once in about one hundred seventy years.

This was all you need to know about the planetary parades in general and their schedule in 2022. If you liked this article, share it with your friends, and follow us on social media to never miss noteworthy planetary alignments in the sky above.

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